10 Important Stories from 05/28/19 Box Scores: Impressive Unheralded Prospects (& Which To Target), Which Breakouts To Buy/Sell & More

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It was a poor start for Frankie Montas (4.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 5 BB, 5 K), but don’t let it discourage you as the upside remains.  Stephen Strasburg went on a strikeout binge, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Braves.  Alex Bregman helped lead the Astros to victory, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Is it time to believe in Eric Lauer…
He posted his third straight solid start, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP to defeat the Yankees on the road.  He’s now allowed 1 ER in each of his past three starts and 2 ER or fewer in six of his past seven.  Of course he’s failed to go past 5.2 innings in all but one of these outings, and while he’s won each of his past two starts you would’ve expected more from this strong run.  Luck doesn’t help you work deeper into games, while his groundball rate is pedestrian (45.2% entering the day, 4 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday) and his strikeout rate doesn’t bring much appeal (7.2% SwStr% entering the day, just 2 swinging strikes yesterday).  He’s the type of pitcher to consider using while he’s going well and the matchup calls for it, but don’t expect him to be a must use option.

2) Maybe it’s time to believe in Derek Dietrich…
It was a monster day, helping the team to an 11-6 win, as he went 3-4 with 3 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R.  He’s now hitting .254 with 17 HR and 35 RBI, so there’s obviously a lot to like with the performance thus far.  He’s homered in back-to-back games, but the problem is how sustainable is this success?  The first red flag is the lack of additional extra base hits, with just 2 doubles and 1 triple.  How about entering the day with a 31.1% HR/FB, which is unsustainable (12.6% for his career), and the risk of a significant drop in his average as he is maintaining an elevated SwStr% (11.4% entering the day) while swinging for the fences (52.3% fly ball rate).  There’s some value in Dietrich, but don’t expect this to continue and when the power slows the rest of the production will go with it.  Ride him while he’s hot but be ready to move on.

3) Another stellar start from Matthew Boyd, but is he for real…
Sure it was against the Orioles, but he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, to improve to 5-4 with a 2.85 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 72.2 IP.  He’s shown strikeouts and control all season long, with 88 K vs. 15 BB, as he’s shown improved swing and miss stuff (13.1% SwStr% entering yesterday, before 14 swinging strikes) and an ability to get opposing hitters to chase outside of the strike zone (34.8% O-Swing%).  He’s cut down the usage of his curveball (5.7% entering the day), instead using his slider (36.0%), and while there are risks in terms of home runs (41.9% groundball rate, 4 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls) there’s an awful lot to like (he entered the day with a .280 BABIP and 77.2% strand rate).  Wins could be difficult and there likely will be some bumps, but there’s reason to believe.

4) Nick Pivetta returns from the minors and delivers a solid start, giving reason to believe…
It didn’t look like things were going to go well, after he allowed home runs to two of the first four batters he faced.  However he righted the ship from there, earning the W as he allowed 3 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP.  Home runs have always been an issue for him at the Major League level (1.54 HR/9 for his career, before yesterday) and that’s a risk that’s going to continue to be an issue (3 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday).  There’s no questioning the strikeout potential, and as long as he’s found his control (like he did in ’18 when he posted a 2.80 BB/9) the upside is going to be there as he could win a lot of games with a strong offense behind him.  Pivetta may not be an ace, but he should be a solid option and is worth owning in all formats.

5) Is there value developing in Miami’s offense…
Trevor Richards is going to get a lot of the publicity out of this one, as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Giants.  However the offense put up 11 runs behind him, and it’s Harold Ramirez’ performance that’s worth noting.  He went 3-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at an impressive .413 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 9 R over his first 49 AB in the Majors.  Obviously it’s a small sample size and he’s not going to maintain the .469 BABIP he entered the day with (especially considering his 72.7% groundball rate).  He does offer a little bit of power and speed (he had 11 HR and 16 SB at Double-A last season) and could be a 15/15 producer, though a refinement in his approach would go a long way (11.4% SwStr%, 43.0% O-Swing% entering the day).  There’s some upside, but there also is a lot of risk to consider and that makes him more of a short-term play.

6) It wasn’t a very good outing for Max Fried…
Taking on the Nationals he allowed 4 ER on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 5.2 IP to take the loss.  He’s now allowed 3+ ER in four of his past seven starts, leading to a jump in his ERA from 1.52 to 3.19.  Obviously no one would complain about the current mark, though the strikeouts have also started to slow.  Yesterday he managed to get just 7 swinging strikes, though he’s generally been better than that (10.8% SwStr% entering the day).  He also has shown a strong groundball rate (55.7% entering the day) and more surprisingly enough control (2.08 BB/9).  It’s the latter that’s the biggest red flag, and he now has 7 BB over his past 17.2 IP so things are clearly going south.  If that regresses the other numbers will follow, especially when you consider his 83.0% strand rate entering the day.  There’s value, but don’t be surprised to see the regression continue.

7) Lucas Giolito stars against the Royals, but should we believe…
He made one mistake, a three-run home run from Alex Gordon in the first inning, but was stellar from there.  He finished allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 8.0 IP to defeat the Royals and improve to 7-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 60.0 IP.  He’ll finish May with 46 K vs. 10 BB over 41.1 IP, giving significant promise moving forward.  There is going to be the risk of a regression, especially as he hasn’t allowed many home runs (0.52 HR/9 entering the day) despite a rather discouraging 37.0% groundball rate (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday).  Granted 26 swinging strikes (he entered with an 11.5% SwStr%) is promising, and if he can continue to throw strikes there will be value moving forward.  Be prepared to stomach a bump or two at some point, but don’t expect his value to completely disappear so quickly.

8) Has the time come to buy into Addison Russell once again…
He went 1-2 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, while he also drew two walks, and he’s now homered in back-to-back games (and three of his past four).  In 47 AB he’s hitting .298 with 4 HR and 6 RBI, though he continues to swing and miss a bit too much (he entered the day with a 12.4% SwStr%) and it’s hard to buy into his 25.0% HR/FB (and that was before yesterday’s home run).  He is using the entire field (27.8% Oppo%) and is hitting the ball hard (38.9% Hard%), so that brings promise but is it enough to ignore the other red flags hanging over him?  He does have the potential to make an impact, though it’s hardly a guarantee.  In deeper formats consider rolling the dice while he’s going well, but someone like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. represents a bit of a better gamble with more guaranteed playing time.

9) Devin Smeltzer makes an instant impact in his MLB debut…
It only took him 69 pitches to get through 6.0 spectacular innings against the Brewers, allowing 3 H and 0 BB while striking out 7.  Splitting time between Double and Triple-A prior to his recall he owned a 1.15 ERA and 0.90 WHIP over 54.2 IP, with 48 K vs. 10 BB.  Obviously we’d like to see a few more strikeouts, though he was better at Double-A (9.9 K/9) and this could be a case of him simply needing to adjust to upper level hitters.  The bigger concern is the risk of home run issues, with a minor league career 0.91 GO/AO, but that can be overcome with elite control (2.0 BB/9 over his minor league career) and the upside in his strikeout rate.  He’s not going to be an elite level option, but at the very least he should be worth streaming with the potential for more.

10) An impressive debut for Zach Plesac, but should we care…
He had to withstand a rain delay, but that didn’t deter him while taking on the Red Sox in Boston.  He finished allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP.  He had been pitching exceptionally well between Double and Triple-A prior to his recall, with a 1.41 ERA and 0.78 WHIP over 57.1 IP behind some elite control (7 BB) and nearly a strikeout per inning (56).  Over his minor league career he owns an 8.5 K/9 compared to a 2.1 BB/9, though a 0.91 GO/AO does give a little cause for concern.  Does that make him one to ignore?  Absolutely not, and he wouldn’t be the first unheralded prospect to rise into an impactful role.  Time will tell, but at the very least he’ll be a streaming option with the potential for more (and he appears to have a little bit more upside than the previously discussed Smeltzer, if you have to pick between the two).

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MILB.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. Professor
    I have to drop one of the following in a points league and its a tough choice. Haniger, Riley, Alonzo, Encarnacion or Conforto?
    Thanks

    • Is there any keeper rules? I’d probably drop Riley first, just because I fear a significant regression coming, but can argue Encarnacion.

      Could you try to package and trade?

    • I’d like to be in a league where people are dropping Riley ! If you are dropping Riley, you don’t know what the F you are doing, retire now…

  2. Is there any keeper rules? I’d probably drop Riley first, just because I fear a significant regression coming, but can argue Encarnacion.

    Could you try to package and trade?

  3. Thoughts on Moancada ROS? I received a trade offer for him and send away Nelson Cruz. I have no production at 2nd base and Nelson Cruz on the bench due to Abreu and Bell in the line up

    • I’d go with Richards of the two. It’s close with Darvish, but I liked him better than Darvish in the preseason so I’d lean that way now.

    • He has potential, but I’ve always had concerns about the plate discipline. If he’s not getting on base, he’s not going to be able to steal/score and that’ll hurt his value

  4. How long do you think I should hold on to Jimmy Nelson now that he can’t be stashed on the IL? My SPs are G Cole, S Bieber, and M Perez so I can use him but not if he stays in the minors. Thanks!

    • I don’t think he’ll be in the minors more than 2-3 weeks, just to build up a little bit more arm strength. Keep him stashed for now

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